Legendary F1 team founder Frank Williams dies at 79
Frank Williams, the founder of one of Formula 1’s most successful and popular teams, has died at the age of 79.
Williams founded the Williams F1 team in 1977 and quickly transformed the private team into one of the best in the sport, competing and winning against some of the biggest car racing manufacturers. The team won nine Constructors ‘Championships and seven Drivers’ Championships between 1980 and 1997 and remained on the grid for over 40 years.
Williams is one of the most important and respected figures in F1 history.
“Sir Frank Williams was one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting in this sport”, Sir Lewis Hamilton wrote on Twitter.
“What he achieved is something really special. Until his last days, I know he remained a runner and a fighter at heart. His legacy will live on forever.”
In one of the sport’s great outsider stories, his team started operating out of a former carpet warehouse, but quickly became the team to beat in F1. Clay Regazzoni won Williams’ first race at the 1979 British Grand Prix, with Alan Jones winning the team’s first world championship in 1980.
Williams continued to lead his team despite a serious car accident in 1986 that left him quadriplegic. Remarkably, his team won the constructors’ championship that same season and would win both titles in 1987. Williams then established his team as the dominant force of the 1990s.
He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1999 for his services to motorsport.
Although he handed over the day-to-day management of his team to his daughter Claire in 2013, Frank remained team manager until September 2020. Prior to last year’s Italian Grand Prix, the Williams family s ‘is removed from the leadership of the team following its sale to private investment firm Dorilton Capital.
Until then, Williams had been the longest-serving and most successful team manager in F1 history.
The Williams team confirmed the news in a statement on Sunday.
He said: “It is with great sadness that on behalf of the Williams family, the team can confirm the passing of Sir Frank Williams CBE, founder and former team manager of Williams Racing, at the age of 79. years.
âAfter being admitted to hospital on Friday, Sir Frank passed away peacefully this morning surrounded by his family. Today we pay tribute to our beloved and inspiring figurehead. Frank will be sadly missed. our friends and colleagues respect the Williams family, wishes confidentiality at this time.
âFor those who wish to pay tribute, we ask that donations be made in lieu of gifts to the Spinal Injuries Association. Otherwise, we would like flowers to be placed at the entrance to the team headquarters in Grove, Oxfordshire. Details of the memorial service will follow in due course. “
F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali released a statement saying that Williams “was a true giant in our sport who overcame life’s toughest challenges and fought every day to win on and off the track. We have lost a much loved and respected member of the F1 family, and he will be sorely missed. His incredible accomplishments and personality will beâ¦ etched in our sport forever. My hearts go out to the entire Williams family and their friends in this sad time. “
Tributes poured in from the racing world after the news was confirmed.
Sir Frank Williams was one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting in this sport. What he achieved is something really special. Until his last days, I know he remained a runner and a fighter at heart. His legacy will live on forever. pic.twitter.com/NDIwIvzZCl
– Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 28, 2021
It has been a real honor to run for him and to be a small part of the incredible legacy he leaves behind, a legacy that will live on in the hearts and souls of this team forever. Rest in peace, Mr. Frank. Thank you for everything. ??
– George Russell (@ GeorgeRussell63) November 28, 2021
Sad news today
– Valtteri Bottas (@ValtteriBottas) November 28, 2021
Very sad news. Sir Frank Williams leaves a lasting impression on the history of @ F1. He was a pioneer, an exceptional personality & an exemplary man. In the name of the whole @FIA Community, our thoughts are with his family, friends & @WilliamsRacing. Rest in peace my friend https://t.co/iWygN5mYzi pic.twitter.com/uz4xyru9l4
– Jean Todt (@JeanTodt) November 28, 2021
It is a sad day for our sport, Frank Williams will always be remembered as one of the heroes and # F1 Icons.
My thoughts and prayers are with his family, especially his daughter, Claire Williams. #TEAR?? pic.twitter.com/vSs7MUIUFO
– Sergio PÃ©rez (@SCecoPerez) November 28, 2021
We are filled with the most immense and deepest sorrow over the passing of Sir Frank Williams
His life was animated by the passion for motorsport; his legacy is immeasurable and will always be part of F1
Knowing him was an inspiration and a privilege
He will be missed deeply, deeply pic.twitter.com/48JhruQpLK
– Formula 1 (@ F1) November 28, 2021
We have lost a true hero of our sport and an inspiration to so many others. Sir Frank not only created a special legacy in F1, but showed the power of human determination to overcome enormous adversity. Thoughts of his family and the Williams team. pic.twitter.com/oVD73NkSKu
– Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) November 28, 2021